Petersburg, WV – USDA Monongahela National Forest. Monongahela National Forest officials will soon install an additional gate in the Dolly Sods Area to ensure motorists do not drive into this area during the winter. A legal seasonal closure order on Forest Roads (FR) 75 and 19 will also be issued, allowing law enforcement citations if necessary. The new gate will be located near Laneville Cabin east of Red Creek Trailhead, where motorists travelling from State Route 32 can continue to access the trailhead and turn around before the gate. Additionally, Grant County will be assisting the Forest Service by moving their gate that is currently located on FR75 near Jordan Run road approximately 1.5 miles west where the Forest Service boundary intersects FR 75.
The formal legal closure will prohibit motor vehicle use on FR 19 between Red Creek Trailhead and Jordan Run Road; and between FR 75 beginning approximately 1.5 miles west of Jordan Run Road and FR 19 during winter months when inclement weather, snowpack, or ice is expected to prohibit safe passage.
Vehicles stranded in snow, weather related accidents, and search and rescue efforts for missing motorists have all occurred in the Dolly Sods area over the years as people underestimate the effects of deep snows and high winds, as well as the challenges of driving on steep, unplowed roads. These situations lead to putting first responders and tow vehicle drivers at risk as well. The harsh weather also contributes to difficulties in maintaining roads adequately, especially during spring freeze and thaw cycles. Allowing vehicle use too early in the year damages the driving surface and increases maintenance costs.
To counter these problems, Forest officials have seasonally closed Forest Road (FR) 75 across the top of the Sods for many years. These additional physical and legal closures are aimed at resolving winter issues on the other sections of road in the area. Closures will be implemented by mid-January and will remain in place until conditions allow for safe passage, normally in mid-April or early May.
Cheat-Potomac District Ranger Troy Waskey noted that “while this area of the National Forest will be seasonally closed to motorized vehicles, non-motorized uses are still available and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of winter opportunities to hunt, fish, hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski.”
Forest officials worked closely with Grant, Tucker, and Randolph Counties to ensure private landowners are not affected, and with local 911 center directors and first responders to ensure their concerns were taken into account. They also considered current hunting use of the area, which this closure is not expected to affect.